Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Narrative


Over the years I have become aware that to many people the narrative surrounding an image may be as important as the image itself.  The image is considered a mere touchstone to the life experience of the artist creating the image.

I have a different criterion since I consider an image from the perspective of how it will look on my walls.  The experience of the artist may be interesting but it is not critical to my enjoyment.  I don’t care that Ansel hopped up on top of his car, didn’t have a light meter but he knew how may foot-candles the moon had, and exposed Moonrise.  Good for him but I liked the image before I knew that about how he shot it.  It’s not irrelevant but it’s not important to my enjoyment of Moonrise.

I recently attended a program on the history of the National Gallery of Art.  What struck me the most was that the benefactors, who gave a lot of art to the nation, had previously used that art to decorate their houses.  They had not selected the art to create a gallery; they were decorating their living spaces.  In fact, the restorers had to clean the smoke residue off one Van Gogh because it had been hung over the mantle of a fireplace.

When I consider my life story, the narrative does not seem exceptional.  I have lived an extremely ordinary life.  The images are not the result of a mission or exceptional circumstances.  Most of the images have either come to me or I’ve put myself in a place of extraordinary beauty where they have been easy to find.  The recent flower images are possibly an exception, but they are beautiful, easy to do, don’t take a lot of time, and provide me something I can work on in the studio.  Hard to build a narrative that anyone would care about out of that.

All that said, I really enjoy photography and hope to continue doing it for a long time, even if mine doesn’t have a great narrative surrounding it.  One of the great things about being a photographer is that you can capture the beauty you see, to enjoy again and to share with others.